We see Grandma's at the Mabanta River crossing with Uncle Osman and Aunty Zainab making the time-honoured trip to Sanda Magbolontor Chiefdom on a whistlestop tour to meet some of the villages recently joined Hope Sakuma and catch up with master farmer Andrew and Skeku and review the farm's development over the last year.
FIRST STOP... CASSAVA FARM
Mama Mayila gamely takes her life into her hands disappearing off into the distance on the back of a motorbike to reach our fully-fledged cassava farm - the biggest in the Chiefdom - started only in May last year now growing lushly and one which will seed cassava farms in 24 Hope Sakuma villages in Sanda Magbolontor.
Actually, make that a cashew nut farm for there's 600 saplings, donated by COOPI, lining the farm to ensure their regular weeding and care. These two drought-resistant crops, cassava and cashew nut, will boost nutrition locally and help these communities adapt to climate change.
NEXT STOP.... GROUNDNUT GALORE!
Back in Manays Mama Mayila catches up with chair Obakai and reviews the groundnut harvest stored safely since September - 68 bushels from 35 planted - each woman farmer receiving two pans (6 bushels between 7 villages), two bushels for Osman to carry to our interim care centre with the remaining 60 bushels stored ready to expand Hope Sakuma's groundnut farm to from 7 to 12 Sanda Magbolontor villages this year!
Ruth, our lady in red and chairlady from Masillah, the winning team who produced an amazing 12 bushels of groundnut, two clear of joint second RoGbin and RoGbaran. Groundnut is a such a nutriticious staple in Sierra Leone so helping every village establish their own groundnut farm will boost nutrition locally and provide a good cash crop in years to come where value can be added locally by processing into peanut butter and oil.
BING BING! BOLI LAND BOUNTY
Mama Mayila poses with an unthreshed bale from the first boli land harvest - 100 of 150 bushels threshed from 30 bushels planted. It took these dedicated volunteers and volunteers from 5 other Hope Sakuma villages nearly 2 months. Meanwhile the second boli land lies awaiting harvesting.....
Mama Mayila spends some time with our farming group drawn from Massanah and Daimba villages and finds some more grandchildren! We know how much these guys really really need a tractor and a harvester and thresher....but can you imagine how much more rice we could plant and harvest here on what we count to be eight boli lands.
Sixty of the bushels are on standby to be parboiled on their way to feed vulnerable children in our interim care and kinship fostering programmes and the remainder split between feeding our farming groups thru the year which reduces a significant overhead and providing a substantial seed bank with five different grains of rice - each a country favourite being creamy and heavy - enabling us to double what we plant later this year.
NEXT STOP... A VERY RICE SURPRISE!
On the motorbike again as Mama Mayila's paying a visit to Forakaria village, one of 15 IVS sites, where work has already begun. These inland valley swamps have water all the year round and the 15 teams are developing their channels to plant three varities of Nerica sequentially so we'll benefit from three harvests this year.
Imagine three harvests of rice in 2019! We'll be able to extend support to more IVS communities - we hear of a 70 acre and 20 acre sites, just two of more than 100 swamp sites suitable for Nerica - that would be beacoup rice to feed Sanda Magbolontor all year round.
Meanwhile, Mama Mayila's back on the bike venturing forth to RoKomneh, RoGabaran and RoBat to greet more grandchildren and distribute the 3 varieties of Nerica rice to three more IVS teams. A third of the harvest from our 15 inland valley swamps will help provide a seed bank of the three varieties for the Chiefdom.
FINAL STOP... THE SWEET TASTE OF SUCCESS
Wouldn't you know it? Grandma's found an old friend and lots of new grandchildren as she visits Makatai, the latest village to join Hope Sakuma, to taste the fine rainforest honey these awesome artisan apiarists harvest - it's sweet-sweet! You can see the traditionally woven hives covered in cow dung, wrapped in palm and ready to hang in the highest trees. We've got a team of 45 so we'll be eager to see how much honey can be produced sustainably - enough we hope to give a spoonful to all the kids in our interim care and kinship fostering programmes!
In just under two years Hope Sakuma has grown from one village to 23 joining together with a single aim to feed their Chiefdom sustainably. Crops have been diversified into drough-resistent varties to help these villages adapt to climate change and vegetables to boost nutrition fro rural kids like these.
By harnessing the spirit of inclusive innovative volunteerism, bringing local and diaspora skills and investment together Hope Sakuma has unleashed the power of gender equality - our 23 farming groups all have a majority of women members by design - with women playing a full and equal part groups get different perspectives, better ideas, cleverer marketing and can deliver so much more.
We have the women to thank for the idea of growing groundnut in the first place and then speading the seed to every village. We have the women to thank for suggesting sticks from the cassava farm could make cassava farms all over the Chiefdom and we have the wisest woman in Manays to thank for suggesting way back in March 2017 that we work best when we work together.
If you like what you see and the idea of helping a Chiefdom feed itself and feed vulnerble kids appeals and you want to help us empower more rural women to boost nutrition, sustainability and climate change adpatation then please share our sustainable farming story and if you can, please give:
You'll receive our grateful thanks and a personal thank you from the kids and the Ladies of Hope Sakuma! And you'll earn a special place on our virtual wall of thanks over on our website.
FOLLOW OUR JOURNEY!
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